City Monument – The Church(es) of The Epiphany, Civil Lines, Gurgaon
A tale of two times.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
Old Delhi and New Delhi. Old Gurgaon and New Gurgaon. In both cases the ‘old’ and ‘new’ parts stand very close to each other, and yet they are so different.
In the entire Greater Delhi Region Region, one place where you can witness this contrast between old and new very starkly is Gurugram’s Civil Lines. There, the Church of the Epiphany is located in a compound of lawns, flowers and playgrounds. But it’s the two church buildings, separated by a little garden, that grab all the attention.
Wings of the same church, one is more than 150 years old. The other is a millennial—it was consecrated in 2009.
Surely, the older building is instantly eye-catching because of its historical colonial-era architecture—it can easily pass off as a parish church in some sleepy village of Victorian England. Built for British officers serving in the district, the red brick structure sparkles as a souvenir with its tall narrow lancet windows, a tiny bell tower, and a gabled roof.
The newer church is way larger, but less ostentatious. Elegant in its disarming simplicity, it is as if she was confident of her place in time and did not want to outshine its elderly counterpart. The front is all straight lines and sharp angles. The plainness is calming.
Inside the old church, the ceiling rests on a frame of timber roof truss. The wooden beams crisscross like musical elegies to yesterday’s world. A red carpet stretches out to the altar. The stained glass panel behind the metal cross shows the crucifixion. While the scenes outside the windows seems like another planet. The sun barely percolates.
In a dramatic contrast, the sunlight fills up every possible crevices inside the newer edifice. So sprawling, so airy. The new church’s subdued styling is amiably complimented by the white of the walls. On sunny noons, the daylight streams into the hall through the church’s wide glass door and its tall windows, including a round skylight near the roof. Among other things, the prayer hall has a Yamaha synthesizer and two pianos. When it is empty, the silence in the new building is so haunting that one fears to even think of anything unsuitable—what if the thought echoes out loud?
The church(es) opens daily from 7 am to 8 pm.
Pieces of eras